10 best summer moments with my kids

Summer is almost over. Next week school starts and pretty soon it will be Halloween and even Christmas (OK, not that soon!). I've had a great summer with my kids, and here are 10 highlights.

1. Flying to and from Sweden with my kids, and realizing that they've grown up so much. They know what to do, they are not so anxious about being on the plane, and they handle the on-board boredom better than before. However, they also bug each other to the point of madness when bored at airports: old problems go away, new ones appear!

2. Hanging out in the old-time farm in Rismyrliden, Sweden and watching my kids play with the kittens there.

3. Seeing how much fun my kids had taking care of the chickens (3 hens and a rooster) that my parents had borrowed for the month of July when we stayed with them in Burvik, Sweden.

4. Enjoying the beach and the water at my parents' summer-house in Burvik with the kids.This is one of our favorite places on Earth.

5. Going to Stockholm with my kids, and exploring Old Town and Skansen together.

6. Spending time on the beach in Spanish Banks in Vancouver, including one day when we saw a bald eagle land next to an injured or sickly cormorant. The eagle proceeded to very easily and casually kill and eat the other bird. It was one of those moments when your kids learn something about nature in a very direct way that you didn't plan on when the day started out.

7. Hanging out at Maplewood Farm with the goats, and the other animals. The kids really loved the two kids, aka the baby-goats, that cuddled and then ran around, chasing each other and skipping on the rocks.

8. Lazing around at Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen, enjoying the sand, water, and the fantastic playground.

9. Enjoying the local water-parks with good friends.

10. Going to the local farmer's markets for some fresh fruits and vegetables. Favorites include cherries, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and corn on the cob.

Picture of cherries from Wikimedia.

DIY craft-ideas for traveling kids - from DVD-cases to shells

I am not a very crafty person, but every now and then I get the urge to make something useful from scratch for myself of the kids. One great place to find ideas for crafts, is Pinterest. You can easily end up spending hours on end on Pinterest, just browsing all the cool ideas and beautiful photos. And every now and then you might just find something you really will end up making.

Potential craft-project?

Here are some ideas for travel-related crafts that I found on Pinterest. Click on the links for pictures and instructions!

1. Pencil case from an old DVD-case
This is such a cool idea and a great way to re-use DVD-cases you don't need anymore. You pretty them up and then use them to store pencils in. Great way to pack pencils for a trip too of course.

2. Roll-up diaper changer from a vinyl table cloth
If you're flying with a baby, it's a great idea to bring along something to put your baby on when you need to change their diaper. Even if there's a change table available, you will probably feel better if you don't just put the baby on that potentially very dirty plastic. This looks like an easy-to-do project, and the diaper changer would fit easily into a backpack or other carry-on.

3. A car-seat protector
This soft, blankety DIY project could help keep kids a bit comfier and your seats a little more protected on roadtrips.

4. Zippered bags for first-aid supplies, travel-games, and more
This would be a great way to keep supplies for a trip nice and organized: get those little see-through,
zippered bags and label them, then fill them with what you need to bring. First-aid kit, pencils and crayon, medications, a pouch with small games for each child: lots of possibilities.

5. Family travel journal
If you're going on a special trip, this would be a great idea to help everyone get a special keep-sake afterwards. Put together the supplies for a small travel journal for each family member, and see what they each come up with!

6. Seat-belt pillows
This DIY-pillow would definitely make sleeping in the car more comfortable for kids (hey, maybe I should make myself one too!).

7. Shell-crafts
If you have a child like my daughter who loves, loves, loves to collect shells and rocks, this is a great web-page to check out. There are lots of ideas on crafts you can make using shells gathered on the beach. Definitely bookmarking this for future use!

8. Souvenir ideas
This web-page also has some great ideas for DIY-souvenirs and how you can display your own and your kids' mementos from your travels.

10 great travel-gear items for traveling kids

There is a lot of wonderful travel gear out there, and every now and then I like to cruise the web, online stores, Pinterest, and Twitter for some products that look useful and interesting. Here are some of the gear I've found recently that looks perfect for traveling with kids.

1. Flyebaby Fly Baby Airplane Seat Child Comfort System
This product looks extremely useful if you will be flying with a baby. It attaches to the seatback in front of you and gives a place for your baby to rest comfortably. If my kids were still infants, I'd be looking at getting this for sure.

2. The Sit Seat Baby Travel Harness
According to One Step Ahead, this versatile harness can be used when your baby is in a chair, stroller, airplane seat, shopping cart, or you can use it to secure the baby to yourself, and keep them safely on your lap. The product looks great, and also easy to pack.

3. Snack and Play Travel Tray
This packable, portable tray is designed to fit on chairs and car seats. Definitely a practical solution, and something that would come in handy on long car trips, or just to be used for kids when you're out and about on vacation.

4. On-The-Go Booster Seat
This portable booster seat is inflatable, which makes it even easier to pack than a regular portable booster seat. We used a similar product when the kids were little, but this one definitely seems to be a step up: comfier, lighter, and easier to squash into a suitcase.

5. The Boba Air Baby Carrier
Mountain Mama reviewed this ultra-light, ultra-packable baby carrier on her site, and it sounds like a fantastic product for travel and outdoors adventures. It weighs only 0.7 lbs, or 0.3 kilos, and apparently folds up small enough to fit in a purse! Boba makes some very good carriers, so this sounds like a very good product.

6. driSuit Endurance iPhone Waterproof Protective Case
I don't have an iPhone, but I do know plenty of people do, and if you do, and if you're traveling, and if you're going to be poolside or on the beach a lot, then this might be a great product to try out. You can still use the touch-screen, and you can take pictures with your phone to a depth of 15 feet (4.5 metres).

7. Eclipse Solar Backpack
I'm a sucker for cool backpacks (I love them for hiking trips and I also use mine as hand-luggage on flights), and this one does look very cool. It has a thin, flexible solar panel that makes it possible for you to charge your electronic gadgets on the go.

8. Kid's Stay-Put Swim Shoes
I will be getting these shoes for my kids for next summer. They are made to be worn on the beach and in the water, to protect little feet from rocks and hot sand. The strap looks like it would make them a little easier to put on than the similar water-shoes my kids have used previously. Find them at Amazon, or buy directly from One Step Ahead.

9. Crayola MyPhones
Kid-sized headphones are a must-have on long flights with kids, at least in my opinion. It makes enjoying the on-board entertainment a lot easier for children, than if they have to struggle with headphones that are too big. These ones can be customized with stickers and markers. They also come with a handy carrying case.

10. Coleman Road Trip Beach Shade 
I love the beach and the sun, but sometimes you do need a bit of shade if it's really sunny and really hot: especially if you're there with a baby or toddler. This beach tent looks great and comes recommended by Stephanie at My Messmerized Life.

Flying with kids - 5x2 + 4 items to bring for babies and school age kids

My children are now 9 and 5 years old. I've traveled with them on long flights, mainly various routes between Vancouver, Canada and Sweden, since my son was a baby. Flying with kids can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it can also turn out to be not that bad at all: depends on your luck, and how you and your kids are feeling on any particular traveling day.

Bringing the right things on board with you in your hand luggage can help make your trip easier. But what to bring does change, depending on the age of your kids. Here are some tips on important items to pack in your carry-on, if you're traveling with a baby, if you're traveling with slightly older kids (say preschool age and elementary school age), and some items that are great to bring along for both age-groups.

Carry-on items to bring when flying with a baby
  1. Diapers and wipes - Bring more than you need, just in case of delays.
  2. Pacifier Clipor soother strap - If your baby uses a pacifier, it's a good idea to use a strap or clip to attach it to baby's clothing. Airplane floors are not the cleanest of places, and also, you do not want to lose that soother!
  3. Something to change your baby on - Change tables on board and in airports are available, but not always clean or comfy. Bring something, a change pad or even just a small blanket or towel for your baby to lay on.
  4. Nursing Coveror formula - If you are breastfeeding, you don't need to pack the bottles and formula required otherwise. Bringing a cover-up to wear when breastfeeding on board can help give you and your baby some privacy. If you're bringing formula, remember that even with restrictions on bringing liquids on board, you are allowed to bring baby-food on the plane. Just be prepared to show what you're bringing with you to security personnel.
  5. Easy-to-bring-along toys - My own kids did not need a lot of toys on board when they were babies: they spent most of the time sleeping. But it's a good idea to bring along a favorite toy that is also easy to pack. Hand puppets, or small toys that clip on to clothing can be perfect.

     Carry-on items to bring when flying with preschool/elementary-school-aged kids
    1. Litterless Juice Boxes - I swear by Rubbermaid's litterless juice-boxes, while others may prefer other types of spill-proof cups. Bring something that you can put the kids' drinks in while on the plane, since this will make it easier for them to enjoy those drinks, and will reduce the risk of spills.
    2. Favorite snacks - There are snacks and food available at airports and on board, but if your kids are like mine, you don't know if they'll actually eat anything of that. Bringing along at least a couple of familiar, non-messy snacks can really help. Granola bars, dry cereal, pretzels... anything that's easy to pack and that won't go bad or get crushed in your hand luggage!
    3. Favorite toys and/or apps - My kids usually don't require a lot of toys on board (they mainly watch the movies and TV-shows on the personal entertainment screens), but a couple of favorite items are a good idea. Maybe a stuffed animal, a sticker book, a coloring book, a favorite game to play on the cellphone or tablet... lots of choices. Pick something you know will keep your child occupied for at least a little while!
    4. Books - A few books can help calm down a wound up or anxious child, and are a good way to spend the time, especially while waiting at airports in my experience. Bring old-school books, or your e-reader.
    5. Children's Headphones - The headphones available on board usually don't fit kids that well, which can be frustrating. Buy some child-sized headphones and bring on board to improved the experience.

      Carry-on items to bring for both age-groups
      1. An empty plastic bag - This is to put soiled, wet clothes in. Spills and accidents can happen, whether your child is a baby or a preschooler!
      2. Antibacterial wipes or sanitizing hand-gel - To keep everyone's hands more germ-free on board!
      3. Travel pharmacy - My must-haves include a child decongestant, anti-nausea medication, and a pain-reliever/fever reducer.
      4. A change of clothes - I bring a full set of underwear, shirt, pants or shorts, and socks for each of my kids. If they spill, if they get sick and throw up, if anything messy and unexpected happens, I know I've got something clean for them to wear.

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